Back to Alaska!

Town of Sand Point with snow capped mountains across the bay

Hi lower 48er’s
I signed up months ago to return to work in Alaska, this time on Popof Island in the Aleutians, in the town of Sand Point, for a 3 week stint. It’s rather remote, cold, windy and grey most days but the people are nice and they only get a dentist every few months, so it seemed like a good idea at the time. 
It’s always a pleasure to work with Shonna, a recently certified DHAT, or dental health aid therapist, which is a mid level dental position between a hygienist and a dentist that can do fillings and extractions among other dental assisting and hygiene procedures. Alaska is the only state in the country that trains DHATs, and currently there are only 5 states that recognize their training, so it’s an emerging position to help staff underserved areas, often where dentists are scarce. A lot of the donated dental supplies I brought will go in Shonna’s traveling dental bin as she covers the 7 clinics in the Aleutian Islands, so she’s a happy camper.

      In preparation to help pass the time, I offered to bring Pickleball to Sand Point, and the principal of the school said “OK” after I explained to her what the sport was all about. Through Amazon I ordered a portable net, balls and tape to mark out a court on the gym floor, and they promptly shipped it to the clinic I’m working at. Next I asked the folks that run the Pikes Peak Pickleball Assn. in Colorado Springs, which is approaching 1000 members,  if they would place a notice in the weekly email about my plans, and that I was hoping to get some used paddles for the community. The response was great and I packed up 16 paddles along with donated dental supplies from my friends in the industry to take as baggage.
        I had a blast being able to introduce pickleball to the local high school kids for their afternoon gym classes all last week, and they seemed to enjoy having a new sport to help burn off some energy, or maybe that was just the sentiment of their coach Dave. The equipment was left for their use in the future, so don’t be surprised when you see their players in the Olympic tryouts in a few years.

         I’ve done a bit of hiking and made it out to Sand Dollar beach the other day after having to choose between a deep muddy ATV trail or a wet swampy marsh. I tried the mud route first but gave up after 20 minutes of slogging, and switched to the watery route which was wetter but cleaner, and my boots are almost dry for another hike today.  In between the usual rain and gale force winds, the sun appeared a few times this past weekend. We even got some snow and ice, but fortunately missed the 7.0 earthquake that rocked Anchorage last week since we’re 800 miles away. The tsunami warning was a bust too, so I’ll have to wait for another chance to experience an apocalyptic event in the “Be careful what you wish for” category for 150 points.    

           Thanksgiving was shared with some generous neighbors that invited me over to their apartment for a feast, and I cooked chicken Parmesan for them one night to return the favor. Then they raised the bar even more by inviting me over for a King Crab feast last Friday, and it was hands down the best crab I’ve ever eaten, with chunks the size of brats. There was so much that there were leftovers for crab cakes the next night, so I’ve definitely been spoiled and will have a hard time nibbling the puny specimens we get back home.

     Lastly one of my generous dental manufacturing contacts wrote me that I’m in their 2019 catalogue standing at the South Pole, so my 15 minutes of fame has been activated. I’m still waiting for the lucrative product endorsements to come calling, and I’ll invite you on the Gulfstream G650ER when my order is filled, but don’t hold your breath on that for now.

      I’ll be heading back home to CO at the end of the week, Hope you and your families have a reason to celebrate!


Bering Sea Bob

Donated dental and pickleball paddles

High school kids at Sand Point playing pickleball

Showing off their paddles at the net

Trident cannery at Sand Point

Two wind turbines can supply 60% of the electricity for the town of 900

Grocery freighter from Seattle coming to Sand Point

King Crab feast at my neighbor’s apartment

Shonna, the Dental Health Aid Therapist happy with her new cordless curing light

Hike to Danger Point, looking down on Sand Dollar beach

Inside page of Garrison dental catalogue

Bald eagle in Sand Point